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Idea Box

Using stereotypes correctly

Work creates an environment in which four generations have to cohabit; from a few die-hard Baby Boomers through to the young Gen Z. This is not always harmonious – what with the generational war and the avoidance culture, where each generation sticks to its own. Are stereotypes partly to blame?

Generational stereotypes have their uses, but they sometimes lead to ridiculous decisions, like ball pits that are supposed to retain Millennials. They also lead to self-fulfilling prophecies: if you’ve heard that Gen Z aren’t really invested in work, then they’ll live up to your expectations!

The reality is, whatever the generation, we all aspire to be autonomous at work, and to find meaning, flexibility, and appreciation in it! Generational stereotypes risk making us lose sight of the unique character of each individual. Also, they don’t factor in the challenges colleagues are facing in their private life, factors that shape who they are at least as much as their age bracket. So when a young worker asks for a raise after just two months in the job – are they an impatient Zoomer, or do they desperately need to pay off a student loan?

You won’t know until you’ve made the effort to get to know them as a person.

To go further

How generational stereotypes hold us back at work

By Leah Georges (TED talk, 24 April 2019).

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Florence Meyer
Published by Florence Meyer
Executive coach, change management expert, and author. Constantly on the lookout for the latest management and leadership trends.